July 17, 2013 12:44 pm

UK scientists use urine to charge cellphone

U.K. scientists have come up with a way to make the most out of our bodily functions by successfully charging a cellphone with urine.

Mark Evans/ E+
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TORONTO – U.K. scientists have come up with a way to make the most out of our bodily functions by successfully charging a cellphone with urine.

But don’t go purposely dropping your phone in the toilet just yet – the researchers at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory used microbial fuel cells to convert the waste matter into electricity.

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“The project is all about generating electricity from waste material – in other words turning waste into something really, really useful,” said Dr. Ioannis Ieropoulos of Bristol Robotics Laboratory in a YouTube video demonstrating what some might consider an icky way to charge their phones.

The team said it has been able to power a number of electronic devices using urine, including a Samsung cellphone.

The technology generated enough power to send text messages, browse the Internet and make a brief phone call.

Microbial fuel cells use living organisms to convert energy from one form to another.

“Inside the cell we’ve got live organisms – the same bugs that we would find in sediment, soil, even in our gut for digestion. Those little organisms inside the cell eat the fuel that we give them, and by eating it and breaking it down, they produce electrons,” explained Dr. Ieropoulos in the YouTube video.

“Urine is exceptionally good as a fuel for those microorganisms.”

Because the energy output from the cells is fairly small, researchers store the energy in capacitors to maintain the electrical charge, according to an article by The Telegraph.

The work was funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Science and Research Council and the UK Technology Strategy Board and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

© 2013 Shaw Media

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